PHILADELPHIA - Bill Cosby's lawyers blame his arrest on sexual assault charges on "a perfect storm" of mistakes by a federal judge and misconduct by an ambitious prosecutor and celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.
In court papers Thursday, they said Cosby can't defend the decade-old accusation when key witnesses have died, meeting places have closed and evidence has been lost. The filing represents their latest attempt to have the case thrown out before the June trial near Philadelphia.
"Numerous actors — the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; a federal judge with a baseless theory; a lawyer who parades her clients' untimely, unverifiable claims before the media; and a district attorney who publicly branded a celebrity for his own political gain — created a perfect storm of prejudice, bias, and delay," they wrote.
Cosby, 79, is accused of drugging and molesting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. He has called her a willing participant but acknowledged that he gave her three unlabeled blue pills beforehand for stress. Constand was 33 and dating a woman at the time; the long-married Cosby was in his mid-60s.
Defence lawyers called a federal judge's decision last year to unseal deposition excerpts from Constand's 2005 lawsuit against him "baseless." U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno believed that Cosby had narrowed his right to privacy by speaking out about marriage, values and family life and that the public had a right to know how "the public moralist" behaved.
Cosby, in the deposition, acknowledged a series of extramarital affairs and said he had obtained quaaludes from a doctor in the 1970s to give women before they had sex.
Given the testimony, and the dozens of other women who came forward accusing him of similar behaviour, prosecutors arrested Cosby in December, days before Pennsylvania's 12-year statute for felony sex assault expired.
The defence accused District Attorney Kevin Steele of ignoring a predecessor's oral promise not to charge Cosby and using the case to win election last year. Steele now hopes to call 13 other accusers at the trial. Cosby's legal team will fight strenuously to keep them out.
"One of the commonwealth's proposed witnesses claims that her agent arranged for her to have dinner with Mr. Cosby in Toronto, Canada in 1969. Her agent died in 2011. She claims they dined with a famous football player. He died in 2012. The restaurant where she claims they dined closed in 1990," Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle wrote in challenging the delay in arresting his client, who he says is now blind. "Without his eyesight, Mr. Cosby cannot determine whether he has ever even met his (1969) accuser."
Despite that complaint, Cosby accusers have inspired lawmakers in Colorado and Nevada to extend the deadline for filing sexual assault charges to 20 years and to eliminate it entirely in California.
Cosby starred as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" from 1984 to 1992, a top-rated situation comedy on black family life that helped him amass a fortune and a reputation as America's Dad.
In his deposition, he said he gave Constand over-the-counter Benadryl, though she and other accusers believe they were drugged with something stronger.
Allred asked Cosby to waive the statute of limitations for any accusers who want to sue him and let both sides make their case or put up a $100 million settlement fund overseen by mediators. Cosby's lawyers say "the spotlight-loving lawyer" is on a crusade against their client. Steele noted that the trial judge has rejected the defence claim about the non-prosecution promise.